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Full text of "A history of Persia"

2I8                 HISTORY OF PERSIA                 CHAP.
A truly great ruler. Shah Rukh was first and fore-
most monarch of Iran, and we know both from history
and from coins that his sway extended not only to
Astrabad and Isfahan, but to more distant Shuster to
the west, while his boundaries to the east stretched very
Ulugh Beg, the Astronomer-King.—Ulugh Beg before
he succeeded his father had governed at Samarcand for
thirty-eight years, which were a golden age for the often
devastated * province. The encouragement he gave to
science, to which he was devoted, has preserved his name
for all time as the author of the famous astronomical
tables, held to be the most accurate and complete which
have been bequeathed by the East to the West. They
were published in Latin by John Greaves, Savilian
Professor of Astronomy at Oxford, about 1650 and
reprinted a century later. To Ulugh Beg, moreover,
Persia owes the calendar which is in use to-day. The
era is termed Sichkan //, or "The era of the Mouse," and
in it there are cycles of twelve years, each of which is
called after an animal, the names of the months being the
signs of the Zodiac. For instance, on 2rst March 1913
the year of the "Bull" began, and the first month is
known as Hamal, or "the Ram," the second as "the
Bull," and so on,
Ulugh Beg as a monarch was most unfortunate, for
after his succession his nephew, the Ala-u-Dola, seized
Herat and the person of his son Abdul Latif. No sooner
was this pretender defeated than Turkoman plundered
Herat, and almost simultaneously Samarcand was sacked
by the Uzbegs. To complete the tragedy, the rescued
Abdul Latif revolted, took his father prisoner, and
murdered him in A.H. 853 (1449).
Abu Said, A.H. 855-872 (1452-1467).—The parricide
did not enjoy his ill-gotten throne for long ; for Abu
Said, a descendant of Tamerlane, seized Samarcand, and
although Abdul Latif defeated him in a battle he was
himself removed from the scene very shortly afterwards
by assassination. A Prince named Babar ruled for a short
while, and after him Abu Said fought for the vacant